By Staff Writer Pat O’Shea
Who’s next? That is the very question that the Haverford men’s soccer team was asking after winning their second consecutive Centennial Conference title last Sunday.
Their question was answered this past Monday when the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament field of 64 teams was announced. Haverford was named a host for the fegional round for the second year in a row. Haverford will play against the US Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday at 11AM, and, if they win, will play the winner of the other game, UMass-Boston vs. Kean.
While the men’s soccer team was given the answer to who they are set to play, you may be wondering about the teams they have drawn in their regional. Let’s take a look at the other three teams in the regional and who I predict will come out on top this weekend.
In the first game, the Fords will face the Merchant Marine Mariners, hailing from the Skyline Conference. The Mariners finished 13-3-3 and 10-1 in their conference this season. Senior forward Gavin Yingling, who scored 20 goals on the season, and junior Jon Tarbox, who compiled 13 assists, led the team this season. The Haverford defense will undergo the tough task of containing these two when the teams square off on Saturday morning at 11AM.
Prediction: Haverford 2, USMMA 0. The Haverford defense has proved to be tough enough to stifle excellent offensive teams all season. Expect to see the Haverford offense come through in some big moments on Saturday.
In the second game on Saturday, the UMass-Boston Beacons, of the Little East Conference, face off against the Kean Cougars, who received an at-large bid out of the New Jersey Athletic Conference. UMass-Boston is currently ranked #15 in the nation, two spots behind #13 Haverford, and went 17-1-2 this season. Their lone loss this season was early on to Western Connecticut State, and they have since been on a tear. Look for UMass-Boston to attack Kean (14-5-1) early and often, led by the combination of Sophomore Mohamed Kenawy (16 goals) and Freshman Ocane Williamson (17 goals).
Prediction: UMass-Boston 4, Kean 1. The explosive offense of UMass-Boston will ultimately be too much for Kean to contend with.
If these predictions of Saturday’s action are true, Sunday’s match-up will be an incredible contest between #13 Haverford and #15 UMass-Boston. While UMass-Boston has demonstrated their offensive firepower, they have not been tested by the likes of the Fords. UMass-Boston has not played any ranked teams this season, while the Fords have played three ranked teams throughout the year. This potential regional championship game looks to be a fun game to watch with two elite offenses going head to head.
Prediction: Haverford 5, UMass-Boston 4 OT. There is a reason that UMass-Boston is ranked #15 in the nation, but ultimately I believe that Haverford has too much depth for the Beacons to overcome. Expect a high scoring affair at Historic Walton Field, which will not be decided within the 90 minutes of regulation.
Whichever team ends the weekend with two wins will then face the winner of the Rowan regional, consisting of Rowan, Lehman, Tufts, and Springfield.
Photos by Ethan Lyne